Podcast: Listen Here
Build These Habits As A Worship Leader
Before you started to lead worship, it may have seemed like the worship leader just got up and started singing on Sunday.
If you’ve led worship, you know how wrong that assumption was.
There’s a ton of prep work you need to do the week you lead worship. Building good habits is the key to solid worship leading over and over again.
And honestly, some of these things you should do whether you are on stage that week or not.
Some of these will be spiritual and some will be practical. They are both equally important.
1. Warm Up and exercise Your Voice daily
This is maybe the most underrated, unknown, and least talked about way to prepare to lead worship.
But if you want true vocal freedom, be able to do just about anything with your voice, and honestly just have a blast singing, you got to do vocal warmups every day whether you lead that week or not.
This has been the key to increased vocal performance for me. I never used to do this, but ever since I started, my vocal range, intonation, and clarity has skyrocketed.
I always used to think it’s just something to make sure you don’t hurt your voice, so I just did it right before I sang. Then I realized that when I did it the whole week before leading worship, singing was so much easier and songs I had a hard time with were suddenly quite easy.
The good news is that it’s cheap or free to find great vocal warmup materials.
Personally, I use materials from Vocal Artistry, a company run by vocal training expert Tim Carson.
But there are free resources on YouTube, Spotify, and more.
It helps to find something that works for you and stick with it. Get to the point where the exercises are automatic so you can focus on vocals.
I use time in the car to warm up my voice. But you can use any available time where no one will hear you.
2. Read scripture, especially Psalms
This falls into the category of doing whether or not you’re leading worship.
As worship leaders, we need to learn the language of worship. This is in all scripture and especially Psalms.
Did you know that Psalms are inspired songs? Inspired is another way of saying directly from God. All our songs from Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, are great and full of truth. But they are not directly from the mouth of God as are Psalms.
Psalms are the original worship songs. Time tested.
One of my favorites is Psalm 91. It talks about the protection of God. When I was a kid my dad told me to read it every day. I did for years. I’ve read it thousands of times. That Psalm is so ingrained in me that it has shaped how I see God. It’s helped me point others toward him in worship.
Any scripture can help you know and portray God better.
If you want to learn everything you need to know about starting to lead worship, check out my book, “How to Lead Worship in 14 Days.” It will guide you through the process of working up to your first worship session even if you’ve never led worship before. And the best part is that it’s going to take you 14 days to do it.
Or, if you lead a worship ministry and you’re looking for a how-to guide to hand every new worship leader, this book is for you.
3. Practice Your Set, Including Speaking & Transitions
It’s not enough to send out your list to the band then show up at rehearsal. Or worse yet, show up on Sunday.
You should practice each song at home so it becomes second nature.
If you feel inclined, memorize the song so you can lead it without a chord chart.
You should be so comfortable with the song that you can think about other things when you lead.
And you should know the songs well enough to direct the band during rehearsal. You can’t get to that level without practicing the songs on your own at home.
But the songs are just one part. At rehearsal, you’ll hopefully figure out transitions between songs.
In Episode 10 I go more in-depth on how to create transitions. Practice these in-between-the-song parts at home, and remind yourself who’s doing what.
Your band will forget who’s doing what transition, so it will be your job to remind them.
Likewise, practice any speaking parts that you have.
Print out in large font any scripture you will read. Have it in with the rest of your chord charts. Don’t try to look something up in the Bible while leading worship. The Bible is like 2000 pages. Don’t thumb through it. At the very least, have the scripture you want to read bookmarked.
If you will do a small word of encouragement, practice it out loud at home. Say it like 5-10 times without notes. That way, on Sunday it will come out smoothly. Everything is harder when you’re up in front of people so you should over-practice any speaking you will do.
4. Seek God Through Prayer & Meditation
The point is to stay close to him and be able to hear what he’s telling you about this Sunday.
Don’t just pray for stuff. Have a conversation with God and tell Him how you are feeling about leading worship or other things in your life.
Talk to God like you would talk to a trusted confidant.
This relationship takes time to develop. But when you do, you will be able to better lead others to seek that for themselves.
5. Communicate With Your Band
Ok I said I would toggle back and forth between the spiritual and practical, so here’s your practical tip.
Communicate with your band. This includes sending out the song set early enough for people to practice their parts before the group rehearsal time.
We usually send song sets out Monday night for a Thursday rehearsal.
I let the band know if there’s a new song that they should make sure to learn.
Send them chord charts, YouTube videos, and Mp3s in the correct key (something I don’t do but have been thinking about). Go to Transposr.com to transpose Mp3s to the correct key.
Informing them about any special events on Sunday like baptisms or communion, special speakers. All this affects the worship time.
Remind everyone of the time and place of rehearsal, and when to show up Sunday for the pre-service sound check.
Let the band know that you expect them to practice their parts before rehearsal. Include special requests for instrumentalists that aren’t on the recording.
In short, overcommunicate with your band so that they feel good and you feel good that everyone’s ready for Sunday.
The Bottom Line
Alright guys, so we looked at 5 things every worship leader should do the week before leading worship
- Warm up your voice
- Read scripture, especially Psalms
- Practice your songs, transitions, and speaking parts
- Seek relationship with God
- Communicate details with your band
Learn To Lead Worship Better
Are you looking for a resource that will help you get started leading worship or improving your skills?
Check out the book “Learn To Lead Worship In 14 Days.” It’s a step-by-step, day-by-day handbook that can launch your worship leading journey in as little as two weeks.